The baseball team does not have a break all day.
As part of a revamped offseason conditioning program, head coach Gregg Ritchie’s team gets up at 5 a.m., three days a week, to travel to the Vern for a lift workout and healthy breakfast until 8:30 a.m., before heading back to Foggy Bottom for class from 9 to 2 p.m. Then practice goes until 6 p.m.
Chris Hays, the mastermind behind baseball’s new conditioning program, hopes that the strength the team has built throughout the off-season will serve as the foundation for what seems to be a promising year for the Colonials.
“Early in the fall, we made a big emphasis on technique and movement quality and the results are there in practice,” said Hays, who is coming up on his first season with GW. “Everyone started out with a general workout plan, but in some cases I tweaked their regimens to best fill their needs.”
Hays mentored under the Pittsburgh Pirates’ conditioning team before getting the call from Ritchie to join the Colonials’ staff. Players and coaches like the individuality of Hays’ program, which is more baseball-specific than in years past. Though some upperclassmen pitchers were initially hesitant about the new workout regimen because they were used to their own routine, the entire team is now on-board after the players agree that they are already in game-shape in early February.
Pitching coach Brendan Monaghan, who joined the GW coaching staff in December, is impressed with the strength of his pitching staff.
“The pitchers really enjoy the individuality of the training program this year,” Monaghan said. “Chris Hays does a really good job of addressing deficiencies and bringing them to me, so we can correct them as soon as possible.”
Hays has also tailored his offseason program to reflect the aggressiveness of a Gregg Ritchie ball club. GW loves to run and steal bases – the team finished third in the A-10 in total stolen bases last year – so Hays’ primary focus in the fall was on technique and form. Players like Robbie Metz and Joey Bartosic, especially, could benefit from the training as they love to be aggressive on the base paths. Bartosic, who has 41 career steals, joked after a practice that he looks forward to eclipsing 50 steals for his career to pass Ritchie on the all-time list.
“It’s awesome to see our conditioning program completely revamped,” Bartosic said. “All offseason we’ve been waking up early, sticking to our nutrition programs, and honestly this might be the strongest we have ever been.”
On Feb. 6, Ritchie put his guys through a Marine workout of conditioning and team-building exercises at the Quantico base. They started off with a four-mile run, which was was broken up into hill sprints, body weight squats and motivational speeches. The trail emptied out into the base’s football field, where the boys did bleacher stair runs and 25-yard sprints to the point of exhaustion.
“Baseball is a different beast,” Ritchie said. “It’s a different type of training. We feel like we are ready for the season. We are lucky to have Chris Hays because he knows what baseball shape is.”
The baseball team feels like it has won the off-season. It’s almost time to see what it can do this spring.